Storm Track 3 Digital Extra: A look at why bridges freeze before roads during winter weather


We are in the heart of winter which means inclement weather is not uncommon. For those that have to be on the roads, we warn that the most dangerous areas are bridges and overpasses.

Road temperatures on the ground are more likely to be warmer than the air above. This is because the ground traps in heat and will help to heat roads warmer than the air temperature.

The farther we get farther into winter, temperatures trend cooler and with nothing to fuel the ground heat, it will cool as well. So later in the season roads will be cooler and not melt the snow as easily as they would early in the season. 

Bridges and overpasses are roads that are not connected to the ground. Cold air not only flows above the bridge but also below and cools the road from both sides. This will result in a cooler road than one on the ground and it is more likely to freeze over or snow to stick longer. Black ice can sneak up fast or without even realizing it on bridges and overpasses so it is smart to slow your speed in these areas.

Remember this next weekend as we track an upcoming winter system.

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